Photology is designed to be extremely easy to use, and even the most technophobic luddites will have no trouble with the interface. There are no complex menus, and everything the program can do can be accomplished with just a couple of mouse clicks. While this is undoubtedly an advantage for some people, more experienced users used to programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel Paint Shop Pro will find it very restrictive. Some degree of user control would have been a worthwhile addition, such as the ability to restrict searching to specific folders or drives, or the ability to create your own content filters. The editing functions especially are very over-simplified, and the brightness and contrast adjustments are very crude compared to similar features in the more capable image editing programs. I was also a bit concerned to find that one you’ve made adjustments to a picture, it is saved automatically as soon as you click OK, over-writing the original. It would be better to have the option to save the edited photo under a different name, so as to preserve the original image. Another feature I would have liked to see is the ability to select several pictures at once in the thumbnail view. As it is, adding a large number of photos to a group is very time consuming, since you have to add each one individually.
While the standard search filters for date, time and features were very accurate, it has to be said that the content search is not as effective as I had hoped. It seems to search for content based mainly on the distribution of colours within the image, so a search for flowers brings up any photo with brightly coloured objects in it, the search for sunsets brought up any photo with a combination of red and orange colours and a dark background, and the search for pictures of water turned up any photo with large areas of blue-green. The search for faces was more successful, as was the search for beaches, but even those returned a number of erroneous results. Judging by the spare spaces in the content search panel, I suspect that if the program is a success the new filters will be made available as add-ons at a later date, so I hope that it is also possible that the existing filters can be improved, because some of them need it.
That said, as a program Photology does what it sets out to do; it provides a very easy to use search system which allows even the most technically inept users to quickly find pictures within a large collection, and then helps to keep them organised. It isn’t Photoshop, but then it isn’t supposed to be. For a start it is a lot cheaper. The program is available for download from Enoetic’s website, with a web-based trial version available for an instant demo. The full version of the program costs US$29, which thanks to the current state of the US economy is only about £15 in real money, and as such is very good value for money. As an added bonus, Enoetic has stated that 10 percent of the sale price of the program will be donated to charity, so even if you decide you don’t like the program you can feel good about buying it.
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Photology offers a low-cost solution to a problem that plagues many keen camera users, that of searching for specific photos within a large and disorganised collection. It is extremely simple to use, and while it does have its limitations it is generally very fast and effective. If it is developed further and more filter modules are added in the future then it could become a very useful tool.
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